In the buildup to Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, it seemed like Zendaya sure was gonna be in more of it than she actually was. The trailers implied that her character Chani would be more than a girl who haunts — or graces, depending on your POV — the dreams of Timothée Chalamet’s Paul Atreides, while the actual film itself rather noticeably came up short in that regard. Fortunately, and perhaps obviously, she’ll be much more of a character in the sequel.
Speaking to Deadline for their cover story on the surprise box office hit, Zendaya promised that Chani’s story will explored much more in the upcoming second act. “I can be there for longer, which is cool,” she joked. Prior to being cast, and before the film had even begun casting, she’d thrown her name out there — this would’ve been before she headlined HBO’s Euphoria (and presumably had just the one Spider-Man movie under belt), and she knew she didn’t have anything to really prove she could be in a sci-fi film.
Though her time on set was short, she had nothing but positive things to say about her time filming in Jordan. “Denis is great at giving you structure, but then also giving you freedom within it,” she said. “I could come to it with a sense of who Chani was…I felt immediately connected to her. I wish I had more time with her, and with everybody. I didn’t want to leave.” By the time she arrived in Jordan, she got to meet everyone already kitted out in their stillsuits, which was “a very cool way to be introduced to everyone, pretty much in their character essentially.”
Later in the cover story, Chalamet himself is asked about Zendaya, and he went full wife guy mode. “Zendaya is Chani, and it’s incredible to witness,” he gushed. He described the scene of her pulling her mask down as a pretty big deal, both in the film and on set: “On the day, it was like, Holy shit, Chani has arrived.” Knowing that the love between Paul and Chani will live on and endure throughout the books, he had some pretty glowing things to say that should make fans of the novels happy. “Not only was the relationship between us alive in Jordan, and not only does it live on the screen now, it was there just at the first chemistry read. It felt obvious.”
Dune: Part Two and Zendaya will come to theatres on October 20, 2023.